By Cathy Hansen
-About The Book-
Coated with a life of lies and deceit, Burtrum Lee Conner is sick to her stomach. Dozens of times throughout her life the feeling of not being who she is has tormented her. But she kept it to herself, believing that maybe it’s just a chemical imbalance of some kind considering she is one of the first artificially-inseminated babies of the nineteen sixties. Now, there’s more though, something much deeper, much more maniacal than she could have ever imagined. She’s not the first test tube baby at all, but the first….
Burtrum Lee Conner, born into a world of scientific mystery, discovers that the life she’s been leading for the past forty years, is the wrong one. Her parent’s Jed and Jane Conner, stealing her as an infant, brought Lee up as their own. Even her devoted grandmother, Clair Conner, kept this secret close to her chest until they were found out. And now, Lee Conner’s biological mother, Katie Lee, wants her back, but not before the diabolical Dr. Stone has his say.
-About Mary Maurice-
After attending Western Michigan University for two party filled years, I decided to leave academia and explore the real world to learn what life is truly about. For fifteen years I’ve traveled the country working in restaurants, writing and doing readings wherever I was welcome.
While living in Minneapolis during my twenties, I was fortunate enough to be tutored by Dr. Jonis Agee, who was at the time head of the creative writing department at St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul. Her lessons were imprinted in me for all of these years, and have influenced my writing ever since.
My adventures landed me in San Diego, Chicago, San Francisco, and Oregon, finally leading me tos the Land of Enchantment where I’ve resided since 1994. Living in Santa Fe, and the beauty and isolation that surrounds me, has inspire my creative muse in ways that no other place has. While still working in the hospitality industry, my passion for the craft of writing has never been stronger. And I know with each sentence I write, and every paragraph I compose, my ultimate goal is to find the perfect word.
Keep on bookin!
You can visit Mary at marymaurice.com
-Cathy's Book Review-
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read Burtrum Lee, by Mary Maurice. The book is a tale of identity crisis and mystery, with a bit of greed and conspiracy thrown in for good measure. The twists and turns of this book, as well as shifts between 1960 and 2004 kept me at the edge of my seat and unable to put the book down. It is a fast read and held my interest throughout, as I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened next, or what the rest of the family secrets were.
Having lived her whole life questioning who she was and feeling that something just wasn’t quite right, Burtrum Lee suddenly finds herself the focus of attention of a peculiar and potentially dangerous stranger, raising many questions about her birth that her parents and grandmother seem unwilling to answer. Frustrated by her family’s secretive behavior, Burtrum enlists her new friend Megan to assist her in finding out all she can about her past. The truth winds up being far more complex than Burtrum Lee ever could have imagined.
-About Cathy Hansen-
Cathy Hansen is a wife, mom, teacher, independent
beauty consultant, and small business owner. She and her husband operate SeedsNBeans, a local nature store, in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.
This is a book that stays with you...
A Killer’s Grace follows Kevin Pitcairn, a New Mexican journalist and recovering alcoholic, on a journey to understand the concepts of innocence and grace after receiving a letter from Daniel Davidson, a convicted serial rapist and killer. What starts seemingly as a thriller quickly becomes a treatise on the nature of these topics, challenging the reader’s understandings thereof alongside Pitcairn’s own struggle, while tying in a very nuanced discussion of religion.
I, personally, had some issues with the book—for starters, it is revealed early on in the story that, years ago, in an alcohol and drug-fueled frenzy, Pitcairn killed a man and was never brought to full justice. While the character struggles with it and tries to reconcile that act through his work toward bringing understanding to Davidson, it’s just accepted by his girlfriend and Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor as something that happened. In fact, it’s so accepted that his girlfriend takes Pitcairn yelling at a dog as more of a threat of violence than his dark past. Perhaps I’m bringing a personal bias against murderers into my reading of this book, but I can’t shake this overwhelming acceptance of manslaughter as being horribly unrealistic.
The larger issue is more with the overall message of the book. Pitcairn’s eventual thesis is “violence begets violence,” a hard pill to swallow for me because, while I understand and even readily accept it, it still seems a bit dismissive to the actual crimes. Chapman, in his defense, repeatedly tries to reconcile this by saying that, while the cause of the transgression may be other violence, the offender is not without fault; essentially, it’s not a question of innocence, but one of causality. However, this focus on causality disconnects Pitcairn from what actually sent him on this journey of understanding. Although Pitcairn’s eventual article on Davidson references some abuse, the killer himself doesn’t bring any up in his initial letter, instead blaming his mental illness and associated biology that caused him to act in such a way, proven by the fact that he no longer has such gruesome urges after anti-androgen treatments. He wrote to Pitcairn in an effort to spread the word of his disorder, and instead of the article sparking a discussion on the role of mental illness in horrendous crimes, it becomes focused on the thesis of violence begetting violence, with only passing mentions of biology as a source of causality. In that sense, Davidson is done a disservice in favor of Pitcairn’s search for his own absolution.
This is a story that stays with you, and the fact that I was able to write 200 words strictly on my thoughts of how causality is presented in the novel is proof of that. I’d recommend this book, even if it were only to have someone with whom I could discuss it fully.
Elizabeth Seratt is a child of the Deep South, but upon graduating from Ole Miss in 2014, she made an ill-advised move to Santa Fe, where she had no job and no friends. It worked out: she now works as a social media coordinator and occasional freelance writer, and she has enough friends to throw cool theme parties.
She enjoys books, travel, horror movies, green chile, beer, playing outside, taking too many photos, and spending time with her cat. You can follow her adventures on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/elizabethseratt/), or enjoy her snark and love of memes on Twitter (https://twitter.com/elizabethseratt).
Paperback: 240 Pages
Author: Ronald Chapman
Publisher: Terra Nova Books; 2 edition (September 1, 2016)
UPCOMING BLOG TOUR DATES
Thursday, September 15th @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Kwilinski
Cathy Kwilinski reviews Ronald Chapman's A Killer's Grace.
Friday, September 23 @ Renee's Pages
Tange Dudt reviews A Killer's Grace by Ronald Chapman; find out what she had to say after reading this highly acclaimed novel!
Guest Post by Marty Gerber - Terra Nova Books Editor
Bookends is a New York Times column in which two writers go mano a manoover a book-related issue chosen by editors to put them at opposite ends of the widest possible spectrum.
One such recent spectrum was book subjects that are "underrepresented in contemporary fiction." (Though the question “Compared with what?” was ignored, I think the intended answer would be the world we breathe and bleed and breed in.)
For Ayana Mathis, joy was on top of the “missing” list. Today's writers, she said, have dived into a sea of "despair, alienation, and bleakness." And she sees the reason clearly—a need to "write against" our culture's most common images of how people live: those created by ad writers and political speech-makers. As a result, Mathis says, "We have elevated suffering to the highest of virtues."
However, the counterpointing Siddhartha Deb awards writers more personal responsibility for what they ignore: refugees drowning at sea, life in solitary confinement, endless doomed struggles to merely pay the rent. "Literary fiction," he says, "seems cut off from . . . the very substance of living." And the cause that he sees goes deeper than Mathis's view; it is "the narrowing of sensibilities and interests of those writing today."
I realize there's a theory that "literary fiction" is impervious to the marketplace, that its creators should somehow be able to buy gas and pay the babysitter with specie consisting of the good, the true, and the beautiful. This is fantasy, of course. Reality is that those allowed by idealism or trust fund to avoid considering what people might want to read—the "demand" part of the capitalist equation—are pretty few on the supply side of the writing world. The large majority might wish they had that luxury but know they’re sadly stuck with the need to at least occasionally consider their audience.
Deb holds out Elena Ferrante, a writer focused on "unpalatable truth," as someone who "might free herself from the tired pursuit of fiction as a matter of professional advancement" and replace it with "indifference to what the market wants." He probably regrets that she's shown no interest in having her novels go unread. As a fallback, my best suggestion is that Deb, an author praised for both his fiction and non-fiction, step forth himself into that land where writers answer only to themselves.
"The rot of today’s literary scene," he laments, is "reinforced by the corporate demands of mainstream publishing houses"—clearly unacceptable for any person of honor. It's only a matter of time, I'm sure, before Deb will be bravely putting his keyboard fingers where his mouth is—except, that is, for the middle one proudly reserved for his readers.
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